World Poker Tour to Use Action Clock In All Main Tour Events

The World Poker Tour announced Thursday that it has partnered with Protection Poker to implement the Action Clock in all events on the Main Tour beginning next weekend at WPT Choctaw. The Action Clock, tested at the 2016 WPT Tournament of Champions, is literally a physical clock on the table designed to speed up tournaments.

“The World Poker Tour is proud to be the first to implement the Action Clock across all of its Main Tour events,” said Matt Savage, WPT Executive Tour Director, a press release Thursday. “Many players, both recreational and professional, have expressed concerns that unnecessary tanking has taken a lot of the fun out of poker. Poker should always be fun, and it was a no-brainer decision to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events following its success in the WPT Tournament of Champions and WPT500™ Los Angeles. With the Action Clock, more action equals more fun, and who doesn’t want more fun in poker?”

Time-extension chips at 2016 WPT Tournament of Champions
Photo credit: Marvin Rettenmaier Twitter @MadMarvin

The WPT has published an entire page-worth of rules for the Action Clock, but when you dive down into them, it is relatively simple.

As mentioned, the Action Clock is really a big digital timer placed on the table in front of, and controlled by, the dealer. It will not be used during the entire tournament; it will be put into play when the tournament is one table away from the money.

When the last card of the betting round has been dealt (so the final hole card pre-flop or the last card of the flop, to give two examples), the dealer will start the Action Clock, which will begin a 30-second countdown. The player whose turn it is to act then has until the clock hits zero to complete an action.

After a player acts in turn, the clock will be reset to 30 seconds and started once again for the next player, and so on and so forth.

If a player bets or raises, the dealer will count out the chips before starting the clock for the next player.

So, pretty straightforward to this point. 30-second shot clock and there you go. But wait, there’s more.

When the Action Clock portion of the tournament begins – again, when the tournament is one table away from the money – every player will receive four time-extension chips. Each of these chips allows players to receive an extra 30 seconds of Action Clock time. Players must keep them visible just like their regular tournament chips. If a player wishes to use a time-extension chip, it is as simple as passing one to the dealer and having the dealer put another 30 seconds on the clock.

When the tournament is down to three tables, every player will have their stack of time-extension chips reset to six. So, no matter whether a player used all four before that or used none, everyone will have a fresh batch of six chips when there are just three tables remaining.

Then, when the final table is hit, everyone will again get a chip reset, this time to eight time-extension chips.

If a player fails to act before the Action Clock hits zero and he has time-extension chips remaining, he will automatically be given another 30-seconds in exchange for one of the chips, which will be given to the dealer at the end of the player’s action. If a player has no time-extension chips left, the player’s hand will be folded or checked if that option is available.

One final note – and why this is listed in the Action Clock rules is a mystery – tables will become eight-handed once there are ten tables remaining in the tournament.

The WPT warns that time-extension chips should be treated like tournament chips, that is, with care. Players should keep track of them just like they would their regular tourney chips. If play has hit the Action Clock stage but hasn’t reached a point where the time-extension chips are reset and play ends for the night, players are to bag up their time-extension chips right along with their tournament chips to use the next day.

The biggest change in how the Action Clock is being implemented now compared to the 2016 WPT Tournament of Champions is that in that test run, the Action Clock was used from the very first hand of the tournament, instead of only late in the tournament. Because of that different, the time-extension chips were also distributed differently: last year, every player received four time-extension chips at the start and were topped off to four each successive day.

It appears that tournament organizers didn’t see a need for a shot clock for the early stages of the tournament, presumably because there is a lot less tanking when the perceived stakes aren’t as high. At the same time, players are now going to be given more of a time bank later in the tournament so they have more time to make those crucial, big money decisions.

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